Boys Ultimate playing for state title

Team wins first ever Metro League Championship over Garfield

Hewan Mengistu, Reporter

Four years ago, the varsity Ultimate Frisbee team was filled with bright-eyed freshman looking to change up the face of the game. They were soon faced with the hard fact that things were a lot harder than they seemed.

“When we were in middle school, we were the best kids out there,” team captain Hai Trang admitted. “Once we came out to high school, we were a little smaller than everyone else so we needed time to develop.”

Having a varsity team where half of the players consists of freshmen is never easy, but that has not stopped these Eagles. After countless hours of persistence and hard work, the Ultimate Eagles have become an unstoppable force. 

“We have gone from losing almost every game to winning almost every game,” third year captain Amanze Oleru said proudly. “Like a team to beat.”

Although the team is filled with skilled players, Trang believes that a sense of maturity is the reason why they have improved over the years.

“We were all immature kids freshman year, but I feel like we all have grown up,” he said.

This new sense of maturity has lead this team to some great victories, most notably against district rival, Franklin. The game started off rough for the Eagles with a six-point deficit. Both teams put their bodies on the line with multiple players from both teams requiring medical attention. One play resulted in a call to First Responders after a player was hit in the eye. Franklin opened up the game with a 6-0 run. Cleveland battled back for the win.

“We have grown a reputation of a team that can come back from anything,” Oleru said. “It was almost never heard of … of a team to come back from a deficit like that.”

Despite 12 of the 21 players on varsity being seniors, it was sophomore Brian Jacobs who made the game-winning catch.

“Seeing everyone rush to the field … made me feel as if I was part of a team,” Jacobs said.   

For captain Sok Ro, beating Franklin was a long-standing goal. This was Cleveland’s first season win against their rivals.

“It was pretty powerful. It boosted most of our players’ confidence … we just finally succeeded.”

Cleveland was on a high, but their win streak was cut short after they lost to Garfield then dropped another game to Nathan Hale.

“We played really hard against Franklin, and most of our players were injured and that slowed us down a lot,” Ro explained. He sprained his wrist during the Franklin game and was not able to play against Garfield.

The team was given a chance at redemption at the Metro League Finals when they met up with the Bulldogs for a second time. With the stakes higher, the Eagles fought hard and walked away with the title.

Ro’s goal for the rest of the season is a big one: win state. The team will take on Lakeside Oct. 29, at Foster High School in Tukwila for the state title. This is the first time in the team’s history to advance to state finals.

The program will likely struggle next year with only six returning players, but Jacobs believe they can do it

“We are going to do good; we just have to keep our attitudes right and have patience.”